Fun Finds

Hey y’all! Welcome to another Fun Finds Friday! This past weekend my new Athleta catalog came in the mail and, as always, I wanted it all! For those who are not aware, Athleta is a Gap, Inc. brand focusing on fitness apparel. I have a few of their swimsuits and I like that they offer the support that I need but still look stylish. Today I’m going to share with you a few of my favorites.

*I was not compensated for this post these are merely my opinions. Click the picture to be taken directly to the source.*

First up… I just cannot get enough skorts lately. I know this sounds odd but trust me on this. I love to hike and explore and still be able to hit up a cafe at the end of the day. I feel like skorts are the solution. They’re comfortable enough for climbing over rocks but cute enough for dinner.

And I love these two simple tees.

Next up, a couple of tankinis that I thought were super cute. I’ve mentioned it before… I tend to fall into the tankini wearing category. I probably could get away with a bikini but I just feel more comfortable covering up all my bits.

I love that this bikini is super cute but still looks like it’d stay in place while you were playing a game of beach volleyball.

Here are a few bikinis I like. I especially love the bandeau top so you can remove the straps and get better tan lines. Disclaimer: USE SUNSCREEN.

Also, here are two cover-ups I liked. You KNOW how I feel about covering up. Ladies, no matter how good you look no one wants to see your junk when they’re walking into a restaurant. Plus, the lime green one has UPF 50!

Finally, if you’re still interested, here are a few tank-tops I thought were cute and definitely something I could see myself wearing this summer when working out.

Hope you got some good ideas for some summer shopping!

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Get Stuff Done

It’s a challenge… staying focused and getting tasks finished in a timely manner. Sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming when you’re looking at a giant to-do list and wondering how you’re going to get it all done. As the great Tina Fey pointed out, confident women get stuff done folks. Productivity is measured in the efficiency of output. The more efficient you are at tasks the more productive you are. How you manage your space and your time and your confidence directly influences your ability to get things accomplished. I love what Tina Fey says about the confidence to contribute your thoughts and ideas, “Always make sure you’re adding to the discussion.” Don’t be afraid to make your voice heard. Be confident in yourself and your abilities. If you wait until you’ve “perfected” yourself you’ll never make any real contribution.

We’re all works in progress. Believe in your ability to make it happen! Side note: if you have been wishing you could get some help with a dream you want to turn into a reality, look into a small business loan. Companies like Kabbage, based in Atlanta, Georgia, fund businesses that find it difficult to get funding from traditional banks. Forbes listed Kabbage as one of America’s Most Promising Companies. With that said, I wanted to take a minute today to share with you what I feel are 5 essentials for productivity.

  1. First, make sure that you set yourself up for success by being prepared (yes I was a Girl Scout). Do your research, know your job, be the best you can be for the task at hand. For me, this means being sure that I’m up to date on any changes to our system or processing and making sure that my files are in order. I’m constantly bettering myself and I believe this contributes to my efficiency. If you don’t know what you’re doing, how can you possibly do it well? Take time for continuing education and improvement. Be sure that you are “sharpening the saw.”
  2. Second, set up your workstation (wherever that is) for optimum efficiency by having everything clean, sorted, and in its place. My workplace had a consultant come in and evaluate our workstations to help us determine how we should be sitting and where our monitors and keyboard and mouse should be located for optimal ergonomics. I am a shorty so my seat sits closer to the ground, therefore I utilize a keyboard tray to keep my arms and wrists at the correct angle. I know many people who work from home and set up their laptop on their laps. This is terrible for your back and neck. Do your research to see how you should set up your environment to achieve optimum ergonomics and watch your productivity level increase!
  3. Next, utilize background noise to limit distractions. I know this might sound counter-intuitive but it works. Although high levels of noise can impair your creativity, low levels actually help you concentrate. The same way that white noise can help folks sleep, the same can be said for helping you stay focused while awake. For me, I like to play a low level of background noise in the form of music. The key is to be sure the volume is low… not too loud to distract but enough to blend in the background and drown out the random noises that interrupt your concentration. Create a Pandora or Spotify station of relaxing classical music or choose a playlist of singer/songwriters that can just fade into the background. You’ll be amazed at how a little background noise can help you become more efficient.
  4. Then, take frequent breaks! Don’t get so caught up in your work that hours have gone by and you haven’t gotten up from your desk. I’m the worst at this. I know that I perform better when I take breaks to stretch and walk around. Even if you cannot make the time to physically walk away from the task at hand be sure to give yourself a mental break. Take five minutes and cruise Facebook (just don’t get lost and forget to come back to your task). If you have to, set a timer to remind you when the break is over and when you need to get back to work. Frequent mental (and physical when possible) breaks help you to remain better focused and to complete the task in an efficient and timely manner. It may seem counter-productive to take time away from the task but research has shown it’s the best thing you can do.
  5. Finally, reward yourself for a job well done. When you have a clear finish line and a clear reward you’re more likely to stick to the task and see it through completion. Keep track of your to-do list and check off the items as they’re completed. A big line drawn through the task can be reward in itself. If you need more motivation be sure to set yourself up for success by utilizing appropriate rewards such as scheduling a lunch date to celebrate the completion of an important goal. I bring lunch from home each day and try hard not to spend money on lunch during the week, however, when I know that I have a challenging task to complete I’ll schedule a lunch date with a friend so I have that to look forward to when I’m finished. It’s important to celebrate your accomplishments.

So, what about you? What do you do to stay focused and to maximize your productivity? Let me know your thoughts and feel free to share this information if you found it useful. If you need more inspiration, set yourself up for success with this post I wrote a few years ago. Make it a great day!

MissCaron

No Soda No More

SAD FACE!

2015 is the year of no soda for me. Even if I only ever had one soda a week when out at a restaurant it still will save me around $100 this year. Which I will promptly spend on a relaxing (and much needed) massage. I’m not even doing this for the financial aspect, although I know that’s a powerful motivator. I have read that sodas aren’t good when pregnant and since I’m already just an occasional drinker I figured I’d just go ahead and give them up entirely.

We already don’t keep sodas in the house so I rarely have them to begin with, however, every once in a while I like to have an ice cold Coca Cola Classic fountain drink when I’m out at a restaurant. There’s nothing better than an ice cold Coke. So, needless to say, I’m missing it.

One of the main reasons they say to avoid soda (especially diet soda) is that people who drink them don’t drink enough water. Soft drinks tend to take the place of water in the average person’s diet. “”Individuals who drink a lot of soft drinks aren’t going to drink as much nutritious liquid as others,” says Bess Dawson-Hughes, M.D.

With all that said, I’m still drinking coffee every morning and there’s the caffeine that I need to be weary of so I’m not completely out of the woods. I have been soda-free since the first of January and it’s May now so I’d say I’m doing pretty well. It’s not easy but it’s good to know that I’m setting myself up for the best possible success when we start trying to get pregnant.

I can’t stand the taste of artificial sweeteners so I’ve always been a full test Coca Cola Classic kinda girl. Every once in a while I’d partake in a Dr Pepper or Root Beer but we never really had sodas growing up so I’m thankful it wasn’t a terrible habit to break. So, what about you? Are you a soda drinker? Full test or unleaded?

New Year – New Goals

Hello everyone and I hope that you’ve had a wonderful extended holiday. Craig and I were able to spend some time with our family and were able to start on yet another construction project so I’d say it was a pretty good holiday in my book. I’m back today with a post on, what else, new year goal setting.

January is typically a time of year in which we take a moment to reflect on the past year, the good and the bad, and make new goals for the coming year. I’ve decided to set 5 goals for the year 2015. I feel that by keeping these goals broad I’m better able to make them a reality. I know myself and I know that I routinely fail. Instead of focusing on the challenges negatively I’m going to use them to my advantage. So, here goes:

  1. Focus on Christ – First, and foremost, I plan on really renewing my relationship with Christ. Through daily reading, my small group, and church attendance I hope to make some new habits that have a life long effect. Starting this month I have been daily reading in an app called She Reads Truth. This app makes it super easy to stay in the word on a daily basis and it has a wonderful graphic at the end of each reading to share through social media as a way to hold yourself better accountable and to share God’s goodness and grace. I really enjoy the format and I pray to make this become habit. In addition to She Reads Truth, I’m leading my small group (aka Life Group) in the Beth Moore study of Esther. This is a study I have done before years ago and I’m looking forward to doing again with my group. I pray that God uses me for these women and their hope in Him. Also, I’m still involved in the Disciple study that goes through May this year so I’ve got a lot of ways to really make my relationship with Christ more intentional.
  2. Nurture Relationships – I feel like this goal really goes along well with my number one goal this year. In 2015 I really want to work more on strengthening my relationships with my husband, my family, and even more so, my friends. It is so easy to get caught up in daily life that I let my relationships fall by the wayside. Like I mentioned with my first goal, being more intentional means that I’m really making time for what is important. Last year, the deaths of both of my fathers really brought home the importance of relationships. I’m going to work harder on strengthening my relationship with my husband by daily making time for his needs. Whether it is as simple as being more diligent with my cleaning or making more time for physical affection, I plan on making him a priority. I want to be sure that we are setting ourselves up for success with a long and healthy marriage. In addition, Craig and I have talked at length about focusing on our friendships this year and making time to clear our schedule for our friends. We can get so busy at times that we’ve gone a whole month and haven’t spent time with anyone but ourselves. Well, this year we want to change. I want to make sure to take more time for my mom this year and I want to visit my grandparents more. Hopefully this goal will make a lasting change in our lives.
  3. Healthy Living – This past December I started taking classes at my local Pure Barre and I’ve really enjoyed the workout it gives me. I’m enjoying the classes and their varied but yet consistent nature. In addition to remaining in a workout routine for 2015 I am going to continue my healthy living by really working on my diet. I’ve decided this year that I will no longer be drinking soda (specifically dark soda). I know that if I eliminate Coca Cola Classic completely from my diet I will need something to wean me off it’s deliciousness so if I find myself somewhere (like a drive through) where I feel the need to order a soda I will order a Sprite. If y’all know me it’s how much I love a good Coke. The real thing … no diet! I drink them rarely because we don’t keep soda in the house. We know how bad sodas are for you so we treat them as special occasion drinks. With that being said, this year I plan on eliminating them entirely. Craig and I are going to try and get pregnant this year so my health is even more important now. We already do a pretty good job with our health but I plan on stepping it up with diet and exercise and regularly taking my prenatal vitamins.
  4. Better my Budget – Okay, so this is a tough one. This year I’m really going to work on my saving and spending habits. I like to think that Craig and I are pretty good at this already (at least he is) but I know that with a baby coming we really need to step up our game. I’m one of those people who really HATE to budget. Not that I can’t live with a budget, just that I hate tracking and dealing with all the math! It’s easy for me because Craig and I took a look at expenses and we have put me on a cash diet to keep my spending in check but I still find times that I’m swiping my Amex or not really knowing what I’ve spent my money on that past month. This year I want to be more conscious of the whole process and to be more active in pursuing better spending habits. We want to make sure we’re setting ourselves up financially in the best possible way, especially with a future child in the picture. Seeing as my husband is an accountant this goal is a very real one for us.
  5. Personal Development – Finally, I really want to work on myself both professionally and personally. I don’t have time to re-enroll in graduate school this year but that doesn’t mean I can’t make time to pick up Fluenz again. I want to keep my brain sharp and focus on that passion I have for life-long learning. I hope to make more time this year to really keep my mind active and engaged and less focused on trivial pursuits. I find myself spending an inordinate amount of time on Facebook that could be better used by completing a Spanish lesson or even just reading a good book! Also, I want to make more time for this blog. I find that writing is a good outlet for me and I like to share my life with y’all. It’s not a matter of finding time but of making time. This year I want to really make more time for the things that make me a better person and this is a good place to start.

So, what about y’all. What are your goals for this year? Do you have any do-overs from last year that you’d like another shot at? Are you setting just one big goal or many small goals? I’d love to know what’s in store for you for 2015!

MissCaron

Ballet Barre Workout

So, this month of December I decided to torture myself by joining my local Pure Barre group. Okay, so it’s not really torture but the classes are definitely giving me a workout. The movements are very small and designed to really work all those hidden muscles you don’t know you have but you really need to be strong.

I’ve been going for a few weeks now and every single class has been slightly different. I really like that each time we do similar movements but they mix it up a bit. By the end of class I’m exhausted. The classes don’t really get my heart rate up like other kinds of aerobic exercise would (which means I still have to keep up with running or jumping rope) but I definitely feel the burn!

Each class starts off with some body movement in a standing position designed to warm you up. Then, we work on some arm exercises (with or without weights). Next, we utilize the ballet barre to really work our quads and glutes. After that, we work on our core by doing various abdominal exercises (similar to Pilates). Finally we stretch it out and give one last boost to the glutes before the cool down.

I tell you, this stuff is not cheap but it’s totally worth it. I am, by far, the worst in the class. I can’t do half of what everyone else can do but I’m sticking with it. I like that I pretty much know what to expect but that it’s also varied so I don’t get burn-out. My quads, glutes, lower back, abs, arms…. all feel the burn after every workout.

I’m glad I started in the middle of this crazy holiday season because I know that if I make time for this now I can certainly make time in the new year. My new year goal is to find a program and stick with it. So far, so good. I really feel like this is varied enough that it will keep me engaged and coming back for more. I thought I’d share with you some thoughts about my new workout routine in the hopes that it will encourage you to make some positive changes as part of your new years resolution.

Some tips:

  1. Splurge for the good “sticky socks” (you know, the ones they sell in their store or the more expensive ones online with the full bottom). The cheap ones I found online don’t hold me and I slip and slide all over the place.
  2. Go ahead and buy the exercise tights. You’re going to feel weird wearing tight clothing but it makes a difference. You don’t have to worry about pulling pant legs down, etc. Buy a longer tank-top if you feel you need coverage.
  3. Make sure you register for class online before showing up (if this is an option where you are) because there have been days I’ve come to class and they were only letting in folks who were already on the list as it was that busy.
  4. On that note, show up at least 5-10 minutes early for class. This will allow you to get a prime spot in the room and to relax a bit before the class starts (classes start right at the time scheduled!).
  5. When they say “hold” and “freeze” they’re saying the same thing. Basically it just means that when you lift your leg (or whatever) you’re holding it in place for a few seconds before releasing.
  6. Also, when they say “tuck” they want you to squeeze your abs in and curl your booty forward. It helps if you squeeze your butt muscles in at the same time. It’s awkward but you’ll get it.
  7. Finally, don’t worry about what anyone else is doing! Just focus on yourself and your movements and you’ll do fine. Even if you’re doing half as many as everyone else, concentrate on your precise movements so you’re working the muscles correctly. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

So, go out there and try this workout if you have one in your area. I really feel like this workout, combined with a healthy diet, is a great way to get fit. There are several types of barre workout places: Pure Barre, The Bar Method, etc. Do a bit of searching… there might even be a barre class at your local gym! Good luck and have fun! #newyearnewme